01.13.21

Leahy-Led Bipartisan Bill Promoting Affordable Health Insurance Is Signed Into Law

. . . . Bill prevents health insurance companies from price fixing, collusion

(WEDNESDAY, Jan. 13, 2021) – Legislation led in the Senate by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) that promotes lower health insurance costs to consumers by increasing transparency and enhancing consumer protections in the health insurance industry was signed into law Wednesday by the President. The “Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act” will ensure that health insurance issuers are subject to the same federal antitrust laws prohibiting unfair trade practices, such as price fixing and collusion, as virtually every other industry in our economy.

Leahy said:  “I’m proud that our longstanding, bipartisan bill to promote competition and protect consumers in the health insurance industry has been signed into law by President Trump. While ordinary Americans are suffering through an unprecedented, deadly pandemic, multi-billion dollar health insurance companies are boasting record-high profits. It makes little sense that these powerful actors should also benefit from an antiquated exemption in the law shielding them from all scrutiny and oversight by our federal antitrust authorities. By eliminating this special-interest exemption, our commonsense legislation will help ensure that Americans struggling through this pandemic have access to affordable health insurance in a free and fair marketplace.”  

“Our bipartisan bill will now ensure greater transparency and oversight in the health insurance industry and help make health insurance more affordable for Montanans and Americans across the country. I’m glad the President has signed this commonsense bill into law,” Daines said.  

The bill is sponsored in the House by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).

The bipartisan bill amends the McCarran-Ferguson Act to restore the application of federal antitrust laws to the health insurance industry, but does not interfere with or impact the authority of state authorities to regulate health insurance provided under that Act. This bill will help address instances of artificially higher premiums, unfair insurance restrictions, and harmful policy exclusions.

The bipartisan legislation has wide stakeholder support as well.

Statements of Support:

“This promises to finally bring consumers a healthy dose of competition for their essential health insurance coverage needs. Health insurers can, and should, follow the basic free-market rules of competition that operate throughout the rest of the economy to give consumers better and more affordable choices. We especially want to congratulate Congressman Defazio, Congressman Gosar, Senator Daines, and Senator Leahy for their leadership in accomplishing this important win for competition and consumers.” – George Slover, Senior Policy Counsel, Consumer Reports

“The American Dental Association (ADA) is very appreciative that Congress worked in a bipartisan manner to pass this common sense piece of legislation.  We are hopeful that by removing the anti-trust exemption that the dental insurance industry has enjoyed for decades, this will begin to bring transparency for both consumers and providers as well as innovation and competition to the marketplace. We would also like to thank  Representative DeFazio, Representative Gosar, Senator Daines, and Senator Leahy for their leadership in passing this important legislation for consumers and providers.” – Daniel J. Klemmedson, DDS, MD, President, American Dental Association

“Repeal of the antitrust exemption for health insurance is great news for consumers. This important fix is long overdue. At last it has become law -- Hallelujah!” – J. Robert Hunter, Director of Insurance, Consumer Federation of America (Texas Insurance Commissioner, 1993-96; Federal Insurance Administrator, 1974-78)

Background: 

On February 19th, 2019, Senators Steve Daines and Patrick Leahy introduced the bipartisan legislation in the Senate.

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